Late spring and early summer are fantastic times of the year when it comes to cooking. Why? Because you aren't forced to do all your preparation in a single room. Warm weather means finally being able to spread out -- which is delightful after having been cooped for up so long. Gone are the months spent huddling near a stove or standing shoulder-to-shoulder with anyone and everyone else that needs to use the kitchen's counters or amenities. Now you can prepare your vegetables or side dishes in one area of the kitchen, your appetizers in another, and everything else -- such as your main entree -- outside near the grill or on the patio or picnic table.
But the truly great thing is, you're not limited to simply preparing your meal elsewhere. Warm weather means having the freedom to eat anywhere you choose as well!
Like cookouts, picnics are a great way to spend a sunny day, either with your sweetheart or with friends and family. It means getting plenty of sunlight and fresh air, exercise (if you're the sort who likes a good day trip), and, most importantly, getting out of and away from that darned house. Picnics are a great time to relax, load up a plate with good food, pop open a drink (or two!) and enjoy a scenic, natural view, all while socializing with the people you care about.
Here are some suggestions for a fun and satisfying picnic:
(info courtesy of wikihow.com)
Plan ahead. Picnicking is made much more festive when a little forethought is used. Nothing spoils the fun more than not having a corkscrew or a fork when you need one! Keep a "picnic" box, too. Load it with plates and napkins, plastic utensils, a spare bottle opener and corkscrew, plastic food containers, wraps, bags, and other non-perishables.
Think comfort as much as food. Picnics are fun -- unless you are sitting on soggy or rocky ground, on a blanket that's too small, in the rain, with soggy paper plates. If you are on the ground, make sure you pack pillows or chairs. If the weather is iffy, have umbrellas in the car. Make sure your blanket is big enough for your crew. If not, have enough for everybody to be able to spread out a bit. Lots of space is good, and it makes the ants work harder for their share.
Shop ahead of time. Have all your ingredients ready before the day of the event. But prepare the food as late as possible, so that everything is fresh and delicious. If you're preparing things like macaroni or potato salad, make sure you keep them refrigerated so they don't spoil.
Play! If you are picnicking with children, bring a softball or a board game. Frisbees are fun too, for kids and adults. Have activities that everybody can be involved in.
Keep it safe. Bring along a little first aid kit, just in case. Some sun screen, bug spray, antiseptic wash, bandaids and gauze—nothing too complex.
And a few additional tips:
Always wash all your picnic items and dispose of food on returning from a picnic. That way, your picnic pack will be fresh and ready for you at all times.
You can purchase cake covers that will keep food safe from insects. These fold up neatly and are a great addition to a picnic set.
Use non-disposable items over disposable ones when possible. If you are worried about breaking your favorite plates or losing special cutlery, buy cheap used ones from thrift stores...
Tea, coffee, juice and soft drinks all taste better in glass or metal containers. Avoid the throw-away kinds of cups and glasses if you can, but also be aware of park regulations regarding glass containers.